Made in Tribeca: Only Essentials

It was on a pandemic trip to her husband’s native New Zealand that it all came together for Kristina Råström Brown.

The longtime Fidi resident had been noodling the idea of starting a fashion company of her own, after 20 years in the business. (She came to NYC from Sweden via H&M; then worked for Isaac Mizrahi, starting his Target line; then she was creative director at Halston before going freelance just before the pandemic.) She knew she wanted a timeless collection of essentials, and Merino wool was on her mind. But she didn’t fully realize the scope of the industry till she spent her quarantine shift in the land of sheep.

“After two weeks in a hotel room, I went straight to a factory outside of Auckland, and that’s when it came together,” she said. “Time just slowed down. The fiber is quite incredible, and then you realize it’s all around you.”

Merino, Kristina says, can do so much: it’s anti-bacterial, anti-odor, it doesn’t wrinkle, it molds to your body and then retains its shape after washing. And it’s better for the environment. New Zealand wool is certified by an independent auditor for ethical farming practices. There are five different freedoms promised for the animals, and the quality of their lifestyle comes out in the wool.

Her line — Only Essentials — is meant to be comfortable and simple, something, she said, that you can wear for a very long time. And it’s made to order. This is slow fashion at work. Nothing is made unless it’s spoken for, so there is no waste and the items are made to your size, making it size-inclusive as well. It allowed her to start a line without a lot of cash up front, since she doesn’t stock inventory. She can build the brand and see where it goes.

Right now there are four styles: a crew neck, scoop neck and turtleneck long sleeve, and a short-sleeve T-shirt. And just last week, for Fashion Week, Kristina launched three new colors: sandstone, Scandi blue and camel, in addition to ivory and black. They are not cheap: $180 and $145. But that is sort of the point. It’s her hope that her customers keep these pieces for a lifetime, or at least a long while, but if not, everything to do with her products is compostable — from the glue on the label to the garment itself.

“You may have to wait a little longer for this, but it’s better for the environment to wait,” she says. And she is willing to wait to see where the company goes from here. “I wanted to start with the most essential item in every woman’s wardrobe, and then we will go from there.”



  1. Looks amazing! What a fantastic concept and beautiful design!

  2. Love this idea. Wish her luck.